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The Department of Health-Region 10 urged the public to remain vigilant as the number of leptospirosis cases in the Northern Mindanao region has significantly increased this year
According to the DOH-10 Regional Epidemiology Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit, 97 cases have been recorded in the region as of October 7, 40.58 percent higher than last year.
Misamis Occidental has the highest number of cases, with 41, followed by Cagayan de Oro City (27), Bukidnon (14), Misamis Oriental (13), and Iligan City and Camiguin with one case each. Lanao del Norte has no reported so far.
Emman Valentin, health program officer of the DOH-10 Regional Epidemiology Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit, said one of the factors in the rise of cases was the series of flooding, such as in Misamis Occidental, where a huge increase from only three cases in the same period last year was recorded.
The much-relaxed Covid-19 restrictions this year, Valentin said, may also have contributed to the increase in cases compared to last year when people stayed in their homes.
“So now, in 2023, although the Covid has not been lifted, we are more relaxed. So, the movement of the people has now been going out,” Valentin said on Friday, October 13.
Leptospirosis is an infection caused by the Leptospira genus of bacteria and can be transmitted through the urine of infected animals, such as mice, rats, pigs, dogs, horses, and cattle.
It can also be contracted by humans wading in floodwater tainted with animal urine. If there are cuts or abrasions, this disease may enter the body through damaged skin, as well as through the eyes, nose, or mouth.
An infected person may experience fever, chills, headache, muscle pain (myalgia), skin rashes, diarrhea, redness of the eyes (conjunctival suffusion), and jaundice or yellowish discoloration of the skin.
Valentin said every province, city, and municipality has a surveillance officer who has been conducting information, education, and communication (IEC) campaigns against leptospirosis. They were instructed to advise people who have been exposed to floodwater to take prophylaxis, which can be had for free from the local government units.
The public has been reminded to maintain the cleanliness of their surroundings and avoid wading and swimming in floodwater to keep away from the disease. Going to the nearest health center or consulting a physician has been advised, especially for individuals with suspected leptospirosis.
“Untreated leptospirosis may lead to severe complications that can cause liver or kidney failure, jaundice, damage to other major organs, or even death,” DOH-10 OIC Director Dr. Ellenietta Gamolo said.
According to the DOH, keeping the environment clean, disposing of garbage properly to avoid rat infestations, and using pest control measures are some of the best practices to prevent leptospirosis.
Health authorities advised the public always to wear boots when crossing floodwaters and wash their feet after wading in the flood. Open wounds also need to be covered by plasters and keep their eyes, ears, and mouth from floodwater to avoid bacterial infection. (Manila Bulletin)